Thursday, August 4, 2011

300K More Gone?

In the most recent numbers released by blizzard the subscriber base is down another 300K.  Some people from the doom and gloom crew will see this as a continuation of the 600K lost when Cataclysm was released.  I don't see it that way.

While some of it could be a continuation of the previous losses I think that the majority of those losses are people that came back to test the waters and found them to not be to their liking.  Only my opinion of course, but I think that number is basically a standard settling.

It still brings the question as to why people are still leaving.  All any of us can do it guess at what might be the over all reason based on things we see or hear.  We can tell the stories of our friend that just do not play any more but those, while they might fit a great deal of players, are singular stories.

In the end, whatever their reason is, people are leaving because they are not enjoying themselves enough to warrant paying for the game any longer.  Maybe because they wanted the perceived ease of wrath, maybe because they have been playing since vanilla and are just not into it any more, maybe because they started something else and they are enjoying that more, maybe because the hard financial times that hit many hit them and they are doing the responsible thing and eliminating the non-essentials like games.  Whatever the reason, for the people that did leave, it was a very valid reason.

Is there something that can be done about that on blizzards end?

For most of the reasons, no, there is nothing they can do.  People that can not afford it can not afford it, simple as that.  People that are burnt out and quit are just burnt out.  Even if content was changed it is not going to change the burnt out feeling.  People that move on with life, for lack of a better term, will still move on.  There is not much a company can do when someone moves on because they want to.  If they want to, it is not game related.

What they can address are the people that left because of game play reasons but which reasons should they address?

Many people finish the tier of raiding and quit until the next tier comes out.  It's been that way for the real hard core players since the beginning of time for this game and basically any others.  When you bear the last boss the game is over. 

If you make things more difficult it might take them an extra week or two to down the stuff but they are going to leave until there is more of them to do.  This can not be helped, thus there is no reason to try and make things harder.  The people that want it harder are only going to quit anyway until some new challenge grabs their attention.

What they need to do is address the people that left the game because they perceive it as too hard.  That is a large part of the market and if wrath showed us anything it was that attainable content is a good thing for subscriptions.

On some servers, like where my second alliance shaman is, they are already pugging heroic firelands content while on my main server where I have most of my 85s there is only one guild, horde side, that has even managed to finish firelands, once.  My guild has not even started raiding firelands yet.  We have no tanks any more thanks to people quitting.

While my server might suck, it is not the worst out there, it is the perfect example of who this game needs to be aimed at if they want to keep from losing at least that part of the player base.

Hard core raiders will quit when they are done with content.  So they honestly mean nothing.  If it takes them 1 month or 1 week to clear content, it is still a subscription that is going to be lost so there is no need to cater to someone you know will quit as soon as they are done.

Mid line raiders, who will complete stuff and then complete heroic, and then work on it on alts, usually a month after the hard cores are done with it, would benefit from easier content.  They would be able to run their alts in sooner and maybe complete heroic sooner.

Part time raiders, like I would consider myself, if only because I do not have the people in my guild that make it capable of raiding any more then once in a while, will finish the content usually just before the next level of content comes out.  We would benefit the most from easier content.

Mid line raiders and part time raiders are the ones that will most likely not quit once they complete the tier, they will just run alts, run for achievements, run for fun, carry some lesser players through it, you know, these are the types of players that continue to play just for the sake of playing because they like doing it.

I believe this is the base where the losses are coming from.  The people that like to play for the sake of playing are just not enjoying it any more and why should they play something they are not enjoying.

Like I mentioned, my server sucks, they still can not pug T11 even with people now wearing VP 378s and BoE 378s that everyone and their mother is farming left and right. 

What is sad is the fact that my server seems to represent the average player in wow.  Capable enough to chew gum and walk at the same time, but if you ask them to do it too fast they might bite their tongue or trip over their own feet.

The only people that blizzard can stop the bleeding on when it comes to losing customers are those people.  Hard core will still leave when they are done.  People that found it is time to move on will move on, the content will not matter.  It is the average joe that is where the numbers are coming from that can be fixed.  The other stuff, well, that is just business.  People move on sometimes and for a game this old there will always be people moving on.  There is no reason for blizzard to push them out the door however.

I'd be willing to bet that someone in the brain trust in blizzard head quarters knows this and sees this but the design for cataclysm is already out and developing so there is nothing that can be quickly done to adjust it

The next expansion will make wrath content look like nuclear physics when compared to it.  Following the pattern of blizzard taking things too far, they will make things way to easy at the start of the next expansion to try and fix the mistake they made this expansion.

Their only mistake was thinking that the average joe could chew gum and walk at the same time without tripping on their own feet once in a while.

You do dungeons don't you?

Most people you get are just average.  They do not stand out in any way.  You get some good and some bad that make an impression but most of the people you run into did okay and you would not remember them the second you left the group even if you tried.  That is your average joe.  Right now, this game is not for him so he is leaving.

There are two options as I see it.

1) Nerf the hell out of everything so the average joe can do it.

2) Add a lot more solo content so the average joe has something to do while he is waiting for the older tiers to be nerfed (more then they already have) so he can do it.

I vote for option 2.  While my guild will never be a heroic content guild, I enjoy the challenge we get from the normal as is.  Nerfing it so we can get to heroic is not necessary in my opinion.  I am content with running normal on my alts when I finally do finish it thank you very much.

Either one will keep the average joes happy.  Either one would stop the bleeding.  Either one will be hated by the community that considers things just fine.

One small problem, numbers do not lie, things are not just fine.

Clarification on what I mean by average joe.

Average Joe:
A person that knows their class well enough to perform at the bare minimum but does not have the time or dedication to hone their skills, the connection to respond quickly, or the desire to raid 4 hours a night 5 nights a week.  They will be gemmed and enchanted correctly and most likely will even have taken the time to reforge. 

Someone that performs at the bare minimum is someone that does their job well enough to get it done without ever being noticed.  Those people that do 14K in the Zuls as DPS, can CC on demand and avoid the avoidable are the perfect example of the bare minimum.  They are doing enough that they do not stand out as horrible but they are not doing enough that they stand out as doing great.

The average joe will basically go unnoticed in a group.  They did their job and did not stand out in any way, good or bad.

Most players in wow are the average joe.

The game lives and dies on the backs of the average joes.  I think those are the people that are leaving and those are the people that can be kept easiest.

Over all 300K is nothing, normal fall off after an expansion, but I assure you that you will see post after post of people saying the sky is falling.  It is not falling, but it sure as hell looks like it is cloudy.

1 comment:

  1. Nice piece, very thoughtful and I agree with the main thrust of your thinking, however I would suggest there is more granularity to it than you suggest. Let me explain, on my server PUG raiding is not a possibility, low population/desire/capability etc. So broadly you have Guild raiders and the rest, who cant dedicate 7 by 24 to wow. Of the second group (your average Joe) you have two groups, the 14K CC on demand example you mention above which is IMHO a good player at that level who cannot raid (the DPS showing they are maxing out the other avenues) and then the second usually more prevalent group who seem unable to even follow the most basic tenets of good running...DPS who wont focus on the tanks target, DPS that pull , Healers who cannot heal at the right level (im all for learning but you let everyone down going in to Zul before you have enough kit!)tanks that wont use CC then blame the healer etc etc the list is neverending. My point is this, the second group are there (and I generalise) for the instant gratification, if they dont get the kit now, theyre not interested, they cant be bothered to do it right/wait/progress, these are the majority..they may evolve over time but I dont know. the first group (the people who hang around after an expansion, help others to run it, polish themselves and their alts) are the second in terms of the size distribution and they both need different things to make it interesting. The first group is the chew gum and solo line, the seocond would be accessibility to the raiding scene without the Life altering committment for guild/server etc. To my mind this could be achieved relatively easily, these guys will learn the tacs from YouTube, will understand the runs, will pay attention and do their jobs etc. implementing a LFG system similar to the heroics for 10Man Raids as a trial then 25 man later opens up grand vistas of content out of the reach of the likes of me (Average Joe. To be clear I understand the need to reward the hardcore raider those who can commit the 7 by 24 and I dont expect to be able to get the same in the same timeframes. However Im sticking around after they're gone (til the next patch) I would like some path to tread to get there, even if it takes weeks!